Client contacts at Indigenous health organisations continue to increase

Australian Government-funded primary health care organisations saw around 435,000 individual clients through over 3.5 million episodes of care, an average of 8.2 episodes of care per client, in 2014-15, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online services report-key results 2014-15 includes information from 278 organisations across Australia providing health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Seventy-three per cent of these organisations (203) provided primary health-care services and 68% (138) of these were Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

'The health services and activities provided by these organisations play an important role in delivering health care to Indigenous people,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman. 

'This includes clinical care, health promotion, child and maternal health, social and emotional wellbeing support and substance-use prevention'.

In 2014-15, most organisations (220) provided maternal and child health services, with 7,400 Indigenous women accessing antenatal services through 34,100 visits. Around 22,100 health checks for Indigenous children aged 0-4 years were conducted.

Social and emotional wellbeing services-counselling, family tracing and reunion support services-were provided by 97 organisations employing 221 counsellors, a 17% increase in counsellors compared with 2013-14.

Substance-use services were offered at 67 organisations, and saw 25,200 clients through 151,000 episodes of care, an average of 6 episodes of care per client.

Compared with 2013-14, the number of client contacts increased by 9% while client numbers increased by 4%. Over time, the average number of contacts per client per year has increased from 7.7 in 2008-09 to 11.6 in 2014-15.

There were 4,454 health staff employed in primary health care organisations and 2,905 other staff. Just over half (53%) of all staff were Indigenous. The most common health workers were nurses and midwives (15%), followed by Aboriginal health workers (11%) and doctors (6%).

'Staffing varied by location, with 39% of nurses and midwives employed in Very remote areas and 31% of Aboriginal health workers employed in Outer regional areas,' said Dr Al-Yaman.

Client contacts by nurses and midwives represented 50% of all client contacts in Very remote areas compared with 29% nationally.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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